hand coin and not to look back

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QuangHai

Senior Member
Viet
This is probably not a simple question on English but also a culture matter.
In Academy Street by M. Costello, the narrator enrolled a class on Greek Mythology.
"The gods and goddesses entered her and resonated and she was porous to every myth and odyssey, as if the ghosts of Olympus had always lain dormant in her, waiting to be resurrected. She encountered them everywhere, found them threaded through her days, in ads and logos, in films, on the signage of trucks, in the names of towns—Troy, Ithaca, Delphi Falls. Ancient Greece was all over America. On street corners she saw people descend into the subway, and felt a little shiver at their blind oblivion, had an urge to forewarn them, hand them coins, beseech them not to look back."

I do not understand why she want to do what I underlined. Please kindly help me out. Thanks in advance.
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    You are correct.

    Greek mythology stated that when you died you went down into the earth to "live" for eternity in the Underworld (the realm of the dead), a place ruled by the god Hades. In order to get there, you had to cross the River Styx. The only way across was a ferry, and the ferry was operated by the god Charon. You had to pay coins to Charon in advance for the journey. The dead were therefore always given coins to pay the ferryman.

    Another part of Greek mythology concerns the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice (you-ridi-see). Orpheus was human and a great musician. He married Eurydice but she was killed by snakes and therefore went to the Underworld. Orpheus went after her and played his music to Hades who agreed that Eurydice could go back to earth if and only if (i) Orpheus led her out of the underworld by walking ahead of her and (ii) Eurydice did not look backwards. She did look back and was then taken back to the Underworld.

    On street corners she saw people descend into the subway, and felt a little shiver at their blind oblivion, had an urge to forewarn them, hand them coins (for Charon), beseech them not to look back (otherwise they would be trapped in the Underworld.)"
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    -
    Swedish
    Another part of Greek mythology concerns the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice (you-ridi-see). Orpheus was human and a great musician. He married Eurydice but she was killed by snakes and therefore went to the Underworld. Orpheus went after her and played his music to Hades who agreed that Eurydice could go back to earth if and only if (i) Orpheus led her out of the underworld by walking ahead of her and (ii) Eurydice did not look backwards. She did look back and was then taken back to the Underworld.
    Just a correction, it was Orpheus who should not look back to see if Eurydice was following him, when he turned and looked back, it was a sign that he hadn't trusted Hades to keep his promise to let Eurydice leave the Underwood.
     
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